The Alaska State Legislature has been in session three weeks now. Kodiak Representative Alan Austerman, who is the House Majority Leader, says things have been a little slow so far, but that it’s sure to pick up.
Last year the House and the Senate disagreed most sharply on two issues: a roll-back of the state tax on oil companies, and saving the Coastal Management Program. Those two unresolved issues are back before the Legislature this year. The Senate is considering its own version of the oil tax bill, which Austerman says is progress.
— (Austerman 1 40 sec "I see movement coming … give out a state as well.")
Regarding coastal management, Austerman personally supported the bill that came out of the Senate last year, but did not have enough votes among his colleagues in the House to pass it. A citizen’s initiative to recreate the program is planned for the October general election ballot, but it could be headed off by the legislature if it can pass a "substantially similar" bill this session.
— (Austerman 2 36 sec "We’re not sure what’s … what’s going to happen there.")
Austerman says he has a couple pieces of legislation that he’s introduced and is working to pass this year:
— (Austerman 3 19 sec "One of them we introduced … the interest earnings off of it.")
As far as fisheries legislation goes, Austerman says there’s a bill in the House now that would double the loan limit under the Commercial Fishing Loan Act:
— (Austerman 4 20 sec "That changes the loan … through the house at this time.")
The loan program allows Alaskans who cannot qualify for a bank loan to borrow at rates two percent below the Prime Rate for purchase of fishing boats and fishing permits.